There may be nothing you dread more than dealing with angry homeowners in the communities you manage. I don’t blame you! It’s difficult working with dissatisfied individuals. How can you take control of the situation and shift the complaints into a productive dialogue? Here are six tips.
- Listen! This is critical. The homeowner has a problem and they need to be heard. The best thing you can do is listen without judgment. Yes, the homeowner may be emotional, but they have something important to say. If you listen, you can determine the root cause of the problem and start getting an idea of what you need to do to fix it. And whatever you do—don’t interrupt.
- Acknowledge the owner’s emotions. Try to empathize with them. If you were being repeatedly fined for a violation and were unaware of the rules in the first place, you’d probably be angry, too. Acknowledge the emotion without becoming emotional yourself.
- Don’t take it personally. The frustrated owner may be taking it all out on you, but does that mean you are a terrible association manager? Of course not! Understand that the anger is not directed at you personally. The homeowner has a problem with the HOA, and at that moment, you are the face of the association. If you take things personally, you’ll only become emotional as well and nothing productive can come of that.
- Take ownership. Take ownership of the problem and of the solution. If the owner understands that there is a dedicated person taking care of their issue, that may be enough to calm them down.
- Follow up. Once you’ve found a solution to the problem, follow up with the homeowner and let them know that the issue has been resolved. Find out if their needs are now fully met. The homeowner will likely appreciate this extra step.
- Try to keep owners happy. I know, it’s impossible to please everyone, but with just a little effort on your part, you can keep the community-at-large content. A big source of homeowner issues is violations. Make sure homeowners are aware of the rules and regulations so that violations don’t occur. Look for technology that can push out reminders of these rules and regulations via text, mobile app and email. This also boosts your visibility in the community. When homeowners know you are actively working for them, they will appreciate what you do for the community.
I hope these steps will help the next time you find yourself working with a disgruntled homeowner. Just remember, you are doing your best and nothing they say will change that!